Why attend an 8 week self defense course?

Why attend an 8 week self defense course?

We asked one of Sifu Leo’s tai chi students, about why she wants to do a self defense course with Leo, and the reasoning behind asking for an 8 week course.

Here are her answers:

Q: Why have you asked Sifu Leo to offer this type of Self Defense course?

A: Unfortunately, I too have experienced crime and unwanted attention from men (#metoo).  Recently I got to a point where I said enough! and then spoke with Leo.

Enough because I was reminded of the Jennifer Lopez movie “Enough” where she hired a trainer to help her prepare to defend herself.  What struck me in the scene was the intensity of her training, so that the self defense moves became instinctive to her.

The incident that lead to me recalling this, was when I was chatting recently to the store owner of one of my favourites shops, with another friend, and all of a sudden this stranger came up from behind me and put his arm around me, made some crude comment, and then walked off.   My friend and the gentleman I was talking to looked as shocked as I felt.

It was only a few minutes later that I remembered that my Sifu Leo had shown us a move in one of our tai chi classes, which would have been the perfect self defense move for this situation.  But I could not recall it at the time- not even after the incident.  The move, if it had been in my muscle memory, would have been appropriate for the situation, and I could have then told him that what he did and said was not ok.

Instead, I was left feeling vulnerable and powerless to another predator.

Q: What do you mean by “in your muscle memory”? What about this being instinctive is important?

A: The more we practice something (whether it be a physical move – like the perfect golf swing or self defense technique- or a certain mindset or attitude), the more it becomes our way of being.

Our muscles learn that movement, and so it comes more easily to us when we need to perform that movement.  The same can be for self defense moves.  I have attended a few self defense classes over the years, mostly 2 or 4 hours in length, in a once-off format.  Yet there are very few moves which I can now, years later, recall how to do.  And I wonder if in the moment of stress, if I would recall them with enough clarity to defend myself.

When learning, we go through four stages:

  • First, we are unconscious that we don’t know, what they call “unconsciously incompetent”.
  • Then we become aware of what we don’t know, we become “consciously incompetent”, and this is what often prompts us to seek out to learn something- if it is a priority to us.
  • As we practice and learn, so we can reach the next stage, which is where we are “consciously competent.”
  • And for sustainability, we aim to make this learning instinctive. We want it to be a muscle memory, where we are now “unconsciously competent”.

This is how we reach towards mastery of a skill.

So what I would like to learn now, is to have a few moves that I am unconsciously competent at, so that I can feel more empowered, and stronger, and know that should I ever need it, I can and will defend myself better and escape a threatening situation.  Because let’s face it, in today’s world and especially in my country South Africa, crime is way too rampant.  I want to more prepared to protect myself.

Q: Why Sifu Leo?

A: From speaking to Leo about this, he is willing to teach me – and others who want to learn with me – some of the techniques to protect ourselves, and in a way that we develop the muscle memory of them, so that they become our instinctual responses when under stress.

From having taught these techniques for many decades, and from his thorough immersion in martial arts (spanning over 40 years), I know that he is not only unconsciously competent in the techniques, but is also aware of how to teach them by breaking them down into steps, and taking us through the drills needed to learn them properly, to develop the muscle memory and have them as lifelong skills.

Leo also has a gentle and caring disposition, and from my experience in his tai chi classes over the last few years, I know that he can also push his students when needed (in his compassionate way) to help them grasp the ideas, stretch themselves, and learn what they want to gain from the practice of martial arts.

And importantly, I feel safe in his classes so that I am in a better state for learning, and feel safe to ask questions when I need to.

Q: Anything else to add?

A: My hope is that other women will join me in this course, so that we can become stronger together, not only in our ability to defend ourselves and escape harm, but that we then also take that and grow our inner strength to speak up more for ourselves, and for what is right and good in our worlds.

DETAILS

8 Week Self Defense Course for WomenFor information and dates of the next 8 Week Self Defense Course for Women in Johannesburg, see our Events Page here.

Contact Sifu Leo on 0833780468 for any questions you have about this course, and if you want to speak to this student about this course to decide if it is the right option for you.

We asked one of Sifu Leo’s tai chi students, about why she wants to do a self defense course with Leo, and the reasoning behind asking for an 8 week course. Here are her answers: Q: Why have you asked Sifu Leo to offer this type of Self Defense course? A: Unfortunately, I too have experienced …

The Straight Punch in Karate

The Straight Punch in Karate

 

Karate is based on the straight punch.   Understanding the physics behind how this punch works and the method of this punch, will bring the next level of depth to your karate practice.

 

Principles to improve your punch

Straight

The shortest distance between 2 points is the straight line. We use this understanding in Karate to get the maximum speed in a punch.  We aim to punch straight.

Corkscrew

Along with this, Karate uses the corkscrew method in the straight punch to get extra force, power and penetration.   This is when your fist is turned palm facing upward on the hip, and as you punch the fist is then rotated 180 degrees so that at the point of contact, the fist is turned palm downward.

Koshi

Another basic rule to maximize one’s punch, is to punch from the hip in a chambered position.

The hips, being your centre of gravity, are used when you punch, and this is known as Koshi.  This is when your hand starts on your hip, and by twisting or rotating your hip as the hand starts extending, the hip motion is used to drive the punch, adding power to it.

The important point with this or any other technique is that the body (and mind) must be in a relaxed state, or there will be no power.  If there is any tension in one of our muscles, there cannot be acceleration to obtain maximum power.

So, one must develop a rapid twitch in the muscles to do these techniques. It is the same as taiji fajing in tai chi. One must be in a relaxed state first in order for the explosiveness to emanate properly and efficiently through the movement.

Physics and Karate

Newton’s Third Law applies here.

“For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”

When you watch a sprinter, he uses his legs and arms to activate action. The arms and elbows must work in opposing directions in order to propel his body forward.  As the right arm moves forward, the left arm is using the same amount of effort and force to move backwards. This same movement and technique applies in a karate punch or block.

Speaking of which Newton’s Second Law also applies.

“Force = Mass x Acceleration.”

If you want power or force, then you need the other two factors (mass and acceleration).

Your mass is the ability to ‘create ‘ a weightedness in your body or your limb. How do we do that? By training your limb to be as relaxed as possible.

Many people think they are relaxed but actually they are still in a state of tension. One has to really focus on allowing the full weight of the arm and body to be like a bag of cement, to be fully relaxed.

So what is acceleration then? An example is a sports car. Some cars have a really high top end and can reach a great speed, but lack the sprint distances.

We want to be able to not only have a very fast top speed but more than that, to also increase that speed rapidly over a short distance.  That is acceleration.!

Multiply that mass with that type of acceleration in a punch, and Wham! The impact will be enormous.

 

Learn more about the physics of punching by attending Kobujutsu Karate with Sensei Leo Ming in Parkview

  Karate is based on the straight punch.   Understanding the physics behind how this punch works and the method of this punch, will bring the next level of depth to your karate practice.   Principles to improve your punch Straight The shortest distance between 2 points is the straight line. We use this understanding in …

Tai Chi Teacher in Joburg

Tai Chi Teacher in Joburg

Get to know your Sifu

Did you know that your Sifu, Leo Ming, first started learning tai chi when he was six years old?

CHiNA PLUS interviewed Sifu about his thoughts on the value of a practice like tai chi in our fast paced, technologically connected world, and some students share their views on tai chi too.

 

To get to know your Sifu, Leo Low Ming, and to learn more about his Tai Chi Classes in Parkview, Johannesburg, contact him on 0833780468.

Other blogs in our “Get to know your Sifu” Series:

Get to know your Sifu Did you know that your Sifu, Leo Ming, first started learning tai chi when he was six years old? CHiNA PLUS interviewed Sifu about his thoughts on the value of a practice like tai chi in our fast paced, technologically connected world, and some students share their views on tai …

Technique vs Strength for Self-defense in Karate

Technique vs Strength for Self-defense in Karate

Jesse Enkamp is quoted as saying:

“Comparing two equally technical fighters, my money is on the stronger one.
Comparing two equally strong opponents, my money is on the more technical one.”

This brings up the different role’s ‘technique’ and ‘strength’ or power play in karate.  And it also leads us to question what we mean by strength.

“Strength is for me more internal,” explains Sensei Leo Ming.

“Physical strength is applicable in Karate and self-defence, but the downside is one does not get stronger as one grows older. So, this physical strength needs to be nurtured and transformed inwardly, into a mental strength.”

If we look at it with a longer-term view, this mental strength is far more important. It gives us the ability to deal with the hardships that life throws us, from which no one is immune.

The body can endure much, but it is the strength of our mind where we ultimately win or loose when facing pain.

“Strength and technique are always important. If you use only strength you will soon be tired. If you only have technique and no strength, it will not do either as it won’t be effective.”

With self-defense, the reality a person is facing in that moment of personal danger gives the person the adrenaline rush that will boost their strength, which is needed for survival.  But it will be short lived as the body fatigues, and yet hopefully enough to get the person out of trouble.

Sensei Leo Ming teaching a self defense technique

So learning the skills of maximising your body’s leverage in terms of centres of gravity, the ease of deflecting attack and also gaining momentum to move out of harms way, are a strong components of effective self-defense training.

Some of these moves seem counter-intuitive to our ingrained instinct to fight or push or pull, yet with training the body and the mind, these self-defense and karate techniques can become second nature.

They then allow us to find that sweet spot, where we have enough technique to know how to use our strength to our advantage, without unnecessary fatigue.

 

To learn more about self-defense and Karate techniques, and develop the inner and physical strength to apply them, contact Sensei Leo Ming.

Jesse Enkamp is quoted as saying: “Comparing two equally technical fighters, my money is on the stronger one. Comparing two equally strong opponents, my money is on the more technical one.” This brings up the different role’s ‘technique’ and ‘strength’ or power play in karate.  And it also leads us to question what we mean …

Ethics in Karate

Ethics in Karate

Patience; discipline; respect; control; effort; etiquette.  These are some of the qualities student learn in our taiji or karate classes.

Karate fists and ethicsPart of the foundation of martial arts, is developing a high degree of ethics.  This is emphasised in kobujutsu karate training, due to the nature of the physical skills that karate teaches us.

Charles C. Goodin explains how integral ethics is in martial arts, by looking at a significant karate hand gesture:

“A clenched fist represents the destructive potential of Karate.  The open hand symbolises karate ethics and restraint. The open hand covers the fist, just as ethics restrain the karate practitioner’s actions. Many karate kata begin and end with the hands in this position.” – Charles C. Goodin.

An open hand symbolizes ’emptiness’ and being able to let go, while the fist is a universal language of combat.

“It is a combined version of the yin and yang,” suggests Sensei Leo.  “When we have studied the ability and the control to what we choose our hand to be for situations, we ourselves are much more aware and in better control of the self.”

What is Ethics in Karate?

“This is life-long work on the self” explains Sensei Leo Ming.  “It is very easy for the average person to recite and understand but very difficult to live by.  Displaying ethical behaviour challenges us.”

“It is about how we look at things in life, our attitude. It is how we are able to do right and if we miss an opportunity, to then ‘make right’. It is about our daily conduct. It is about what we say (especially to others). It is about consistency.  And it is about integrity.”

These lessons and qualities are ones that even Leo, for the past 43 years, has been working on in himself.  He sees his role in developing ethics in his students, as their Sense, as a very important one, where he needs to set the example.

“I think values such as these never change… the things around us may change, such as modern technologies and phones etc, but these values remain constant, and hence relate to modern day society too.”

Ethics and the Credo

Each system of martial arts may have variations on their credo. The credo is just simply theory if one only reads it. To be able to fully understand the Mings Martial Arts Credo, we must bring the points into practice.

“Therefore we have certain ‘rules‘ of entering and leaving the training place, the dojo,” clarifies Sensei.  “These are the ‘hidden’ understandings and methods for actual practice that students often overlook.”Ethics in karate

An example is when a karate or tai chi student bows at the door, he is not bowing to anyone in particular, but to himself.

“Students may think they ‘have to’ or that it is for me, the Sensei, but I don’t only see it that way. If they can understand, it is a training for their higher self,” wishes Sensei Leo.

Living Ethically

Students who train in karate and tai chi are encouraged to not only develop their physical abilities, but to conduct themselves in their daily life with ethics and integrity.

Knowing the difference between what we are capable of or have a right to do, and what is actually right to do, is a life skill that can lead us far in our own lives, and as a society as a whole.

Join us on this daily journey of living ethically.

 

For more information and to try a class out, contact your Sensei, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

Patience; discipline; respect; control; effort; etiquette.  These are some of the qualities student learn in our taiji or karate classes. Part of the foundation of martial arts, is developing a high degree of ethics.  This is emphasised in kobujutsu karate training, due to the nature of the physical skills that karate teaches us. Charles C. …

Tai Chi Retreat – October 2018

Tai Chi Retreat – October 2018

For a weekend we practiced chi gong and tai chi under the pecan nut trees, listening to the arrow marked babblers and African grey hornbills chatter away to each other.

A mix of beginners, intermediate and advanced tai chi students from Johannesburg and as far as Cape Town, enjoyed the tranquil property of Melody Hills for the October 2018 tai chi retreat, led by Sifu Leo Ming.

“Retreats give us ‘time’ ” reflects Leo, when asked why he holds retreats for his students.

He shares further that “we often feel time is moving at a rapid pace. We ‘didn’t have time to do the task.’ We were ‘short’ of time to finish the job. Time went by so quickly and before we knew it, ‘it was over’. ‘What time is it because I have another appointment in 30 minutes’. ‘This time round I am going to do it differently/ properly.’”

“The retreat ‘gives’ us a different sense of time. We spend the day doing one thing- properly and thoroughly – and without rushing to make the next item on the list.”

“Here, at the retreat, there is no next item. The ‘next thing’ is actually the first thing, or the previous thing’, which become the present doing. We learn about being present; about bringing mindfulness into the present moment. And in this case with tai chi, the present movement or non-movement. We learn that non-action gives rise to action.”

“Getting away from our busy lives and having a renewed self perspective is important or else we tend to lose ourselves in the material world. What is important is self, and the breath. By self I don’t mean being selfish, but rather our true self. The natural grounded and stillness which embodies all of us. Returning to the one,” further explains Leo.

During this retreat we all learnt from each other, as we focused on the Yang straight sword traditional 55 form, and had theoretical and philosophical discussion sessions in between.

The laughter and story telling entertained us over scrumptious vegetarian meals and sitting around fires in the evenings.

We also explored the labyrinth maze as a walking meditation, as well as the options of a gong therapy session and kahuna massages for those wanting some extra elements.

“Each and every retreat is so different and so unique. I think they are all highlights in my academy. I think having students who share a commonality and have a desire to learn from me is a personal highlight” reveals Leo humbly.

Leo hopes that his students leave a retreat being emptied out, in a sense.

“If they are able to leave their baggage behind for that period of time, it would be a successful retreat. If they understood a philosophy that they could use in their daily life, it would be successful. If they could integrate this, it would be a success.”

We hope you will join us at next years’ Tai Chi Retreats in Johannesburg, and experience this kind of success with us.

To  join your Sifu Leo Low Ming for a complimentary introductory class and be invited to the next tai chi retreat, contact him on 0833780468.

For a weekend we practiced chi gong and tai chi under the pecan nut trees, listening to the arrow marked babblers and African grey hornbills chatter away to each other. A mix of beginners, intermediate and advanced tai chi students from Johannesburg and as far as Cape Town, enjoyed the tranquil property of Melody Hills …

Retreating back to the present moment

Retreating back to the present moment

By Brenda Ryan, Student of tai chi

Retreat (N) ‘An act of moving back or withdrawing’ is what one typically does when wanting to escape… and who among us can say we don’t want or need to escape from time to time?

This past weekend afforded a group of students just such an opportunity. I was fortunate enough to secure a place on the Taiji Retreat with Sifu Leo Ming held in the beautiful, tranquil setting of Melody Hills in Magaliesberg.

Our time there was spent practising the healing art forms of qigong and Taiiji. Reconnecting with Mother Earth, and being present in the moment, truly appreciating the beauty around us that in the course of our daily lives we so often take for granted.. And later, under a beautiful starry sky, we sat around the camp fire, tired but content, and grateful for all the blessings of the day.

On our last day we had the privilege of participating in a gong meditation session with our wonderful host, Tejbir and her lovely dog, Pono.

Our time on retreat was very special.. and it is with a greatful heart that I thank Sifu Leo Ming for bringing me, and I’m sure my fellow students, back to the moment… as Mother Theresa once said:

“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.”

 

(Photos courtesy of Brenda Ryan)

To  join your Sifu Leo Low Ming for a complimentary introductory class and be invited to the next tai chi retreat, contact him on 0833780468.

By Brenda Ryan, Student of tai chi Retreat (N) ‘An act of moving back or withdrawing’ is what one typically does when wanting to escape… and who among us can say we don’t want or need to escape from time to time? This past weekend afforded a group of students just such an opportunity. I …

Tai Chi and Dogs

Tai Chi and Dogs

Tai Chi has many benefits, and one that we might not realise is that it helps us with our relationships to man’s best friend – the dog.

Interacting with animals as pets, and dogs are a common pet, can be a physical activity as well as an emotionally rewarding one.

To help care for our pets, we should be walking them often, and engaging them in exercise to keep them healthy.

“Falls, ankle sprains, back injuries and even broken bones are common when walking dogs who are boisterous and if the dog handler is not in tune with themselves and their body alignment and balance” explains Sifu Leo Ming.

“Tai chi is a discipline that helps the dog handler to develop more balance and strength, as well as the inner composure, to handle their dogs better.”

This wonderful article by Christine Green outlines a number of principles that we learn from tai chi, that help with interacting with our furry friends. These include:

  1. Using our waist for handling jumping dogs, by being flexible to move with the push of the dog, rather than being pushed over.
  2. Incorporating back muscles for bad leash manners, by developing the tai chi upper body posture which activates the right back muscles to keep our center of gravity more stable.
  1. Weight shifting for dogs who keep pulling the leash, so that we maintain our balance and strength.
  1. Rooting our weight and energy down, to handle those dogs with bad leash manners, or a dog jumping up, so that we are able to keep grounded and stay in control.
  1. Relaxation, gained from the meditative style of tai chi, is good for everything, but specially for improving reaction time to deal with animals.

 

Read more about how tai chi can help you enjoy your time with your dogs more, in the article.

To experience some of the techniques explained, join your Sifu Leo Low Ming for a complimentary introductory class. Contact him on 0833780468 to learn more about his Tai Chi Classes in Parkview, Johannesburg.

Tai Chi has many benefits, and one that we might not realise is that it helps us with our relationships to man’s best friend – the dog. Interacting with animals as pets, and dogs are a common pet, can be a physical activity as well as an emotionally rewarding one. To help care for our …

Zanta Hofmeyr: how tai chi helps her as a violinist

Zanta Hofmeyr: how tai chi helps her as a violinist

Here is Zanta Hofmeyr, one of our students, explaining the benefits she gains from tai chi and how she enjoyed her trip to China with Sifu Leo Ming.

We also get a peak into the world of a classical violinist:

 

 

Contact Sifu Leo Low Ming on 0833780468 to learn more about his Tai Chi Classes in Parkview, Johannesburg.

Here is Zanta Hofmeyr, one of our students, explaining the benefits she gains from tai chi and how she enjoyed her trip to China with Sifu Leo Ming. We also get a peak into the world of a classical violinist:     Contact Sifu Leo Low Ming on 0833780468 to learn more about his Tai Chi …

Karate and Cars

Karate and Cars

Get to know your Sifu

Did you know that your Sifu, Leo Ming, is into cars?

He has a penchant for old Porsches, and has recently become the Karate, or “Carate” man in the latest series of Toyota motor vehicle adverts.

Here they are for you to enjoy.  (We’ll be adding each one as they are released by Toyota)

Toyota Mastery Advert:


To get to know your Sifu, Leo Low Ming, contact him on 0833780468.

Other blogs in our “Get to know your Sifu” Series:

Get to know your Sifu Did you know that your Sifu, Leo Ming, is into cars? He has a penchant for old Porsches, and has recently become the Karate, or “Carate” man in the latest series of Toyota motor vehicle adverts. Here they are for you to enjoy.  (We’ll be adding each one as they …